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Capitalising on the Kiwi “Exodus” to Australia

Capitalising on the Kiwi “Exodus” to Australia


The migration of large numbers of New Zealanders into Australia has recently made the news on a number of occasions. In the twelve months ending May this year 40,030 Kiwis made the move across the Tasman, many of them highly skilled professionals.

Much has been said about this apparent brain drain from New Zealand, however there is a positive impact and a New Zealand association called Kea New Zealand is at the forefront of capitalising on this powerful and loyal international expat network. Kea is an international organisation spearheaded out of New Zealand, with dedicated groups of expat Kiwis developing local chapters across the world, including an active network in Australia with over 6000 subscribers.

Kea New Zealand was founded at the Knowledge Wave Conference in 2000, the brainchild of Professor David Teece, Dr George Barker and Stephen Tindall. Today Kea has over 23,000 members living in 174 countries around the globe.

“Kea was essentially founded to harness the collective talent and energy of New Zealanders living around the world,” says Ivan Moss, Chief Executive of Kea New Zealand. In Australia, supported by a dedicated army of expat volunteers, the organisation has been growing rapidly to cater to demand. Kea recently hired a full-time regional manager for the Australian market and has opened chapters in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, with another group planned for Brisbane later this year.

Kea does not enter into the debate about the relative merits of migrating to Australia and the drivers. Instead it looks for ways to tap into the Kiwi expatriate community and to develop networks that could ultimately be tremendously beneficial for New Zealand. “As our Australian membership grows we are starting to see a range of exciting new opportunities emerge, ranging from Kea member funded New Zealand venture capital funds to specialised market access support for New Zealand companies,” says Dr George Barker, now Chairman of Kea in Australia.

“Only recently we launched a special programme to connect New Zealanders working in the information technology sector in Australia with New Zealand IT companies”, he says. Bella Katz, a Melbourne based Kiwi and managing director of Behar Katz International Marketing is typical of the type of Kiwi migrating to these shores and joining the Kea network. “We are constantly surprised by the number of Kiwis occupying extremely influential positions in Australia, many of whom are only too happy to advise and support New Zealand businesses that are trying to access Australian opportunities,” she says.

Kea is developing a number of tools to support expatriate Kiwis in Australia and encourage them to support New Zealand. Examples include the Global Talent Centre recruitment service and the World Class New Zealander Network which is designed to cultivate relationships with New Zealanders who are leaders in their particular fields.

- Ends -

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